I write in response to an article published in Mamamia last week entitled “Pushy. Irrational. Emotional. This is how the Liberal Party dismisses its women.”
In the article in which the author’s name was not disclosed, Ms Anonymous, from New South Wales, argues that “…although women make up nearly half of the Liberal Party, they aren’t running for parliament. And when they do? Statistics show it is generally for the marginal seats that much of the time, they lose.”
Perhaps the author missed the success at the 2013 Federal election of four new female MPs from NSW – Lucy Wicks, Fiona Scott, Karen McNamara and Ann Sudmalis. Each contested marginal or notionally marginal seats, ran gutsy and determined campaigns, and won.
I, too, was elected in 2013 as the Member for Corangamite after contesting the most marginal seat in the country.
My election was aided, in no small part, by the Liberal Party’s reforms in Victoria which gives each local member of the party an equal say in who is chosen to run for parliament – in both the House of Representatives and Victoria’s Legislative Assembly.
That each person has an equal vote makes it extremely difficult for the more influential party members to lock up the numbers, so to speak. This has empowered party members at the grassroots and reinvigorated the party organisation. And, might I humbly say, the reforms which were introduced in 2009 have produced some very good members of parliament.
Contrast this to the furor which has erupted in the Labor Party over archaic preselection practices which place so much power in the hands of so few.
ALP national president, Jenny McAlister, has condemned Labor’s preselection system – which allows union bosses and factional leaders to select candidates such as Senator Joe Bullock – as “broken”.
And that it is. After Senator Bullock’s denunciation of Labor as well as his own running mate in the West Australian Senate “by-election”, it is extraordinary that so many people in the Labor Party turned a blind eye to the merits of his preselection.
Now we see the ridiculous farce of the United Voice union reneging on its support for Senator Bullock, following his re-election to the Senate, and calling on him to resign. In the Liberal Party, we proudly have a process which would never allow this to happen. That’s because every person’s voice matters.
Also broken is the ALP’s “Emily’s List” requirement that 40 per cent of seats in parliament should be held by women. In recent times, we have seen numerous examples of Labor’s faceless men flouting the rules and prevailing over competent female aspirants.